They Thank Us For Our Service by Peter Beckstrom

by Peter Beckstrom

Because They care enough
to say something even
though They don’t know what
They’re supposed to say
They would probably think it’s cool
to know someone who had some holes
punched through their grape or sternum
sucking chest wounds suck so
stop the bleeding
start the breathing
protect the wound
treat for shock
and those types of wounds will probably heal

because the shit corpsman lug around
besides enough traumatic experiences
to make an incest survivor’s group
look like a girl scout meeting
is high-speed low-drag med equipment

because this ain’t the Civil War
where people are dying from gangrene, no,
this is the war of the drones
and the best weapons
a back alley done-in-the-dark-deal
a guvvie contract can buy
and that’s a lot
so instead the troops like you
are falling in droves stateside
from rye squeezed into a bottle and
sucking 5.56 rounds into your brain pan through your roof palate

because while They are no longer as friendly
now since the uniform is off and
you’re just the person who was
but now isn’t
and They don’t know what
to say so They don’t say it

because of what you may have done over there
and you’re thinking
a sucking chest wound may just be
the ticket
just maybe

because They aren’t gonna know why
you’re screaming at the cashier
for dropping the dimes when the coins
should have landed in your outstretched hands
or why you’ve been sweating since your kids came in
when you had your back to the door
and they just had to let the screen slam
against the frame like the way
you slammed your spouse against the closet

because what you feel and what you think
don’t wanna play nice with your words so
your hands do the talking now but
your hands do too much talking and
the spouse is gone with the kids and the dog
and here you are back at square rye
tongue-fucking the compensator of your AR

because They just couldn’t say I don’t care
and you just want to hear the truth or
at least that is what you keep repeating
in your head
like you really are gonna believe that
with enough repetition

because memory doesn’t work like that
especially now that your brain is made of 210 days
that are holding all the rest hostage

because what you really want
is to be okay with not being okay
and for They just to give
you some latitude just a
breathing room

because tomorrow is a battle you’ve fought
in your head
in advance
so even if that battle doesn’t come
it already has


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